The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

"Bringing the ocean to the most connected generation in history"

Opening remarks by Grete Faremo, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UNOPS at the  UN Ocean Conference Side Event, 8 June 2017

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Good morning,

I would like to thank you all for joining us today. I've been looking forward to today's discussions for many weeks. 

I have long felt that we at the UN have some catching up to do if we truly want to engage with younger generations. Of those between 12 and 42 — the ages that will decide and design our future — how many have actually read a UN resolution? Or, a UN press release or report of the Secretary-General?

The chances that this generation will read the outcome document of the Oceans Conference are slim. But, they are on the internet from morning till night. And, they will, through their actions, as consumers or as active citizens, shape our future.

Realizing this, at UNOPS, we have paired up with WATO, an organization that knows how to connect with younger generations.

We may like it or not, but our future will be decided by new means of communications, by connectivity, by music platforms, games and social media.

That is how we can reach billions, not thousands. Change will depend on using new ways of communications and messaging.

Those who do not adopt these communications channels are doomed to lose in the global battle for attention.

Take plastics. We must stop using plastics as we do today, every time we take a sip of water or coffee. The challenge is how best to get the message across. By meeting the most connected and tech-savvy generation, on their terms.

This morning we want to share our curiosity of what the future may bring, with our partner WATO.

Through music, gaming and social media, the WATO platform is delivering an important message about the detrimental effects that land-based pollution – particularly plastic – has had on the ocean.

Through their first game, "The Big Catch," WATO is reaching out to a community of significant scale; the worldwide gaming community is estimated at 2.1 billion people – that is half the world's online population.

Imagine what we can achieve together if we reach even a small percentage of this community, and convince them of the value of action.

"The Big Catch" has been played by 3.2 million people since it was launched in April. It is an impressive start.

But much more is happening.

I look forward to hearing more about some of the innovative approaches and solutions among us.

Together we can help to achieve our ultimate goal – ensuring the well-being of our ocean for generations to come.

Thank you all!

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